Estimates for the number of people who gathered at Seattle’s first Hempfest since the legalization of recreational marijuana use in the states of Washington and Colorado range from 85,000 to 250,000. The vibe at this year’s gathering, which wrapped up on Sunday, was more celebratory and less charged than last year’s, according to Reuters.
Last year, the vote on Initiative 502 was approaching and some pot activists felt it might harm medical marijuana users and producers. Kate Cherry, 18, told Reuters: “Last year, every five steps it was like, ‘Vote yes!’ ‘Vote no!’ ‘Vote yes!'”
This year, the divisions were more subtle. Some rejoiced at the passing of Initiative 502, others saw it as providing false hope.
Seattle attorney Jeff Steinborn said 502, which passed last fall, “was drafted to pass, not to work,” according to the Seattle Times.
Rather than making marijuana more readily available, Steinborn said, the law creates a system in which marijuana is “regulated like plutonium and taxed at three different levels.”
Doug Hiatt, another attorney on the panel, pointed out that marijuana is still illegal under federal law, reports the Seattle Times. He agreed with Steinborn that marijuana will likely become more expensive and difficult to obtain for both recreational and medical marijuana users.
Vivian McPeak, the festival’s director, said, according to the Seattle Times, “502 is not perfect, but what in government is?”
Reuters quotes McPeak: “I would hope that people realize this is not the time to stop. When you’re winning is the time to ramp it up and take it to the next level.”
More information on the new regulations in Seattle related to recreational marijuana use on the Seattle Police Department website: click here.